The Allahabad High Court has taken a significant step, issuing notices to Bollywood stalwarts Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar, and Ajay Devgn in response to a contempt petition concerning their endorsements for gutka companies. This action follows a plea urging action against prominent actors and dignitaries for their association with gutka advertisements.
During a recent hearing, the central government, in response to the contempt petition, informed the court about the Supreme Court’s involvement in a similar matter, hinting at a potential dismissal of the ongoing petition. Consequently, the court has scheduled the next hearing for May 9, 2024, as it navigates the complex legal terrain surrounding this issue.
Additionally, the court was apprised of veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan’s legal notice to a gutka company for airing his advertisement post the termination of his contract with them.
Justice Rajesh Singh Chauhan’s bench had previously directed the central government to address the concerns raised by the petitioner regarding celebrity endorsements of gutka products. Despite the petitioner’s representations to the government, alleging inaction since October 22, the matter gained traction leading to a notice being served to the Cabinet Secretary of the central government by the High Court.
Deputy Solicitor General SB Pandey updated the High Court on Friday, confirming the issuance of show cause notices by the Centre to Akshay Kumar, Shah Rukh Khan, and Ajay Devgn.
In a parallel context, away from the legal proceedings, the administration of Puri’s ancient Jagannath Temple, tracing back to the 12th century, has taken a stringent stance. Effective January 1, 2024, the temple has declared an absolute prohibition on tobacco-related items like ‘paan’ and ‘gutka’ within its premises. Ranjan Kumar Das, the chief administrator of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA), emphasized the strict implementation of this ban for devotees, temple workers, and attendants.
This move in Puri finds resonance with broader legal discussions, as evidenced by the Supreme Court’s recent intervention in Tamil Nadu. In April of the current year, the apex court halted a Madras High Court decision that revoked the ban on gutka and pan masala in the state, citing concerns about public health. The ban had been initially imposed across Tamil Nadu due to health risks associated with these products, according to the Commissioner of Food Safety. However, the decision faced opposition from tobacco traders and manufacturers, arguing that only Parliament possessed the authority to enforce a permanent ban, emphasizing the need for prosecution based on food standards rather than outright prohibition. Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the tobacco traders, emphasized, “Ban is not the answer. You may prosecute for food standards.”
These multiple legal and administrative actions underscore a growing concern over the endorsement and consumption of gutka and related products, prompting both legal interventions and institutional measures to address the health risks associated with these substances.
Sources By Agencies